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Comment: Bad science vs denial of science. (Score 0) 794

by ramk13 (#46371257) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience
One is bad science the other is denial of science. Bad science is making a falsifiable claim and then not properly verifying it. Denial of science is making a claim that isn't falsifiable. There's a big difference between saying probiotics will increase digestive regularity and reduce inflammatory disease (may not be true, but we could test it) and saying God created the earth and you can't disprove that because the Bible is irrefutable.

Comment: Re:Night Soil (Score 1) 112

Sewage sludge has been recycled as a fertilizer as long as there have been wastewater treatment plants. The modern problem is that the sludge contains significant concentrations of heavy metals which can't be broken down biologically or thermally. Those metals then end up back on farmland if the sludge is used as fertilizer. It's still commonly used for that purpose though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

Comment: Re:The Toyota Way (Score 1) 610

by ramk13 (#45274867) Attached to: Toyota's Killer Firmware
GGP said "no procedure to make the software fail was presented" which just isn't true. Multiple links in the summary say they reproduced the fault. Whether that fault is what happened in this exact case is a different matter.

but the probability of it happening is so low we don't know about it
I think that's the point. This problem happened at a high enough rate that we did find out about it. I understand you are trading the features that come with software complexity with the risk that comes with being unable to completely verify the code. When that risk results in a fault that happens a significant, noticeable rate then you have a problem. As you said, when you combine that with poor practices (mentioned in multiple links) you get closer to seeing them as liable.

Comment: Re:The Toyota Way (Score 3, Informative) 610

by ramk13 (#45273991) Attached to: Toyota's Killer Firmware
Just in case that wasn't enough:

Vehicle tests confirmed that one particular dead task would result in loss of throttle control, and that the driver might have to fully remove their foot from the brake during an unintended acceleration event before being able to end the unwanted acceleration. A litany of other faults were found in the code, including buffer overflow, unsafe casting, and race conditions between tasks.

Comment: Re:The Toyota Way (Score 5, Interesting) 610

by ramk13 (#45273919) Attached to: Toyota's Killer Firmware
Did you read TFA?

In a nutshell, the team led by Barr Group found what the NASA team sought but couldn’t find: “a systematic software malfunction in the Main CPU that opens the throttle without operator action and continues to properly control fuel injection and ignition” that is not reliably detected by any fail-safe.

That's proof, not an argument that they could have tried harder to find the system could fail. The bottom line is that its software that puts people's lives at risk. It's reasonable to hold that type of code to a higher standard. There are millions of other cars, trains, and planes out there with similar software but without this type of problem. At some point you should be responsible for the things you create.

Comment: Re:The problem is... (Score 1) 321

by ramk13 (#43976055) Attached to: Apple's War Against Jailbreaking Now Makes Perfect Sense

Google "Sprint Clean ESN" or the same for Verizon. It actually gives you a method of verification on the secondary market which you didn't have before. I just bought an old Sprint phone and called Sprint to check to make sure it wasn't stolen before I made the purchase. I had to get the ESN from the seller, but that's a reasonable precondition. You can even offer to meet at a Sprint/Verizon store to check the phone so that they don't have to give you the ESN. I also saw the ESN printed on the original box of the phone, in the case that someone figured out how to spoof it (though I've never heard of this).

I don't think the scheme is the same for Apple's protection, but I think the principles apply. It'll be harder to sell a stolen phone and it'll be easier for a buyer to verify that a phone isn't stolen. That itself shifts demand and supply.

Comment: Advice he asked for? (Score 1) 228

by ramk13 (#43104223) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice For Summer Before Ph.D. Program?

Wow how about some advice that he actually asked for instead of a bunch of bitter, heres-the-reality PhD rants?

The summer between undergrad and my PhD I went on a 3 week road trip with another high school friend who was in the same position. We hit most of the southwestern US and visited several National Parks. It was a ton of fun and a great experience for both of us. We camped out a lot or stayed with friends/family which saves cash and was fun too. This was before digital cameras took off and I also got my first cell phone just before the trip. I have a ton of great memories and recently looked back at the pictures/video.

So my advice is travel. Once you get older you'll start having more and more commitments, enjoy this 3 month period where you really aren't beholden to anyone or anything (no work, no school, no family to support/care). Don't get me wrong, the later life stuff is great, it's that this is your best opportunity to enjoy this type of freedom.

Comment: And also want to pay more rent (Score 4, Informative) 282

by ramk13 (#40751791) Attached to: San Francisco Poaching Tech Talent From Silicon Valley

San Francisco is undoubtedly cooler than the south bay, but it's also way more expensive. Not everyone can afford rent or the space they want in SF when compared to many of those south bay cities. That goes both for companies and people. Some companies will move or start there, but I think it's reaching to say we're at a tipping point.

And most importantly, people aren't raising kids in SF:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/13/san-francisco-moms-reflect_n_1508072.html

So that talent that young is going to have to commute the other way when they get married and have kids.

Comment: Re:Any site doing this needs their head examined.. (Score 1) 231

by ramk13 (#39515487) Attached to: Gawker Media To Require Commenters' Facebook, Twitter, Or Google Logins

You don't want them to know what sites you log into, but you are fine sharing everything else they collect?? Site logins are trivial compared to everything else they keep. Off the top of my head:

Search History
Email contacts
Actual content of emails (!!!!)
Friends lists
Click-out tracking

GP's comment about bridging unrelated accounts is still valid, though. I can see how people would trust Google/FB, but not Gawker.

Comment: Credit for open sourcing (Score 3, Interesting) 51

by ramk13 (#37395782) Attached to: An $80 Open Source Chemical Analyzer

What this group should get credit for is open sourcing a cheap design.

The chemistry and circuit design involved are well-established and taught at the undergraduate level. You can easily find schematics for potentiostats online. It's reaching to say that they've built an $80 chemical analyzer, because a lot of prep work and specialized electrodes (platinum!) are needed to run some of these analyses. This is a cheap lab instrument, not something you take out in the field to make measurements. Ruggedizing and standardizing reagent solutions are what would make a field instrument much more expensive.

I'd bet the group didn't make an exaggerated claim, it's the unfortunate nature of science reporting.

Comment: Diesel MPG != Gasoline MPG (Score 1) 349

by ramk13 (#36858220) Attached to: CEO Confirms Chevy To Sell Diesel Cruze In US

I don't understand how everyone always compares Diesel MPG to Gasoline MPG. They aren't the same thing!

From: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency )
Regular gasoline/petrol - 34.8 megajoules/L
Diesel - 38.6 megajoules/L
Diesel has almost 11% more energy per liter than gasoline. To get to mileage you have to factor in the efficiency of the engine and the rest of the car, but even then the difference should be acknowledged. Whether the energy difference makes it 'better' is also a separate question.

You can't compare the two MPG directly with any meaning. If you said it was cheaper per mile (accounting for the relative price of the two fuels) then you would at least have some practical benchmark, but who cares about the actual volume of fuel you use??? They need to be compared on a sensible basis, and volume of fuel makes no sense at all.

Comment: Re:Kinda missing the point (Score 1) 674

by ramk13 (#35229598) Attached to: Watson Wins Jeopardy Contest

Replying to my own post, but I just found this Ken Jennings quote about this match, which relates to what I said above:
http://live.washingtonpost.com/jeopardy-ken-jennings.html?hpid=talkbox1

On last night's show, I noticed you buzzing in even when you didn't know the answer right away, taking a second after Alex called on you to finish reading the question and give an answer. In your opinion, is this the only way to beat Watson?

A. Ken Jennings :
Good human players do this all the time: you buzz when you see something that trips some "This looks familiar!" switch in your brain and count on dredging it out in the five seconds after Alex calls on you.
Watson can't do this: it only buzzes once it has an answer in mind and a sufficiently high confidence interval. As weird as it sounds, yes, the human brain still has a speed advantage over a 2,880-processor-core computer.

Comment: Re:Kinda missing the point (Score 1) 674

by ramk13 (#35229556) Attached to: Watson Wins Jeopardy Contest

It wasn't only buzzing before the humans, it had the right answer ready to go before the humans in most cases as well.

This is a HUGE assumption. We don't know how long it took for Watson to come up with an answer, and we don't know for the humans either. Jeopardy rules are such that you *cannot* buzz before the end of the question. The speed aspect was removed from the equation.

If you took out the buzzer limitation it would have been a much more interesting (but less fun to watch) competition. Imagine the category is state capitals, and the words "pelican state" are in the clue. That's all a good human would need to buzz, just the word pelican. If the human was anticipating a state nickname (and knew them all), the human could buzz before the moderator even said the word, hear the word as the buzzer is going off, then give the answer. What would it take to build Watson to do that? What if the computer had to listen to the words (and understand them) instead of being fed them electronically? That sort of timing, anticipation, and processing is a much greater challenge than what we saw and would also be immensely useful. If you wanted to build a robot that could listen to someone and respond, that is the sort of intelligence and speed you'd need.

The engineers who worked on the project did a great job...I'm just hoping there's more coming along the same lines.

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